The High Court in Lilongwe has once again thrown out Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) application to stop the ongoing voter registration exercise ahead of fresh presidential election.
The electoral body has been told that its application was wrongly brought before a subordinate court as envisaged under the provisions under which it was made.
On Wednesday, the embattled MEC chairperson Jane Ansah confirmed to The Nation that the electoral body has approached the High Court on an election matter although she refused to give details of the application.
MEC’s application for further compliance, variation or suspension of the operation of the February 3 2020 judgement was brought to the High Court under Section 11(b) and Section 53 of the Courts Act (Cap 3:02 of the Laws of Malawi.)
But, on Thursday, the High Court said jurisdiction to entertain the application “lies with the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and not this court” considering that there is nothing under Order III Rule 19 of the Supreme Court of Appeal that suggest the jurisdiction lies with it.
Order III Rule 19 provides for the control of proceedings by the Supreme Court of Appeal and, in part, states that after an appeal has been entered and until it has been formally disposed of, it shall seize the whole of the proceedings as between the parties and every application therein shall be made to it and not the court below.
“The application should therefore be brought before the Supreme Court of Appeal. This order supersedes any directions made by this court in regard to the present application,” reads the court order in part dated April 9 2020.
Reacting to the order, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafullirwa said the commission would advise on the way forward.
“Meanwhile, voter registration and all electoral preparations will continue. All those that never registered before should go and register. All those wishing to contest should come and collect nomination forms,” Mwafulirwa said yesterday.
The application by MEC came barely 24 hours after the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus prescribed suspension of the voter registration process, among others, as a precautionary measure to fight the disease.
MEC started the registration process in preparation for the fresh presidential election tentatively set for July 2 this year in compliance with the Constitutional Court order that the polls be held within 150 days of its February 3 2020 ruling that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over alleged irregularities